Franz Schwarz focuses on complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. He has extensive experience with arbitral practice, procedure and advocacy both in civil and common law systems.
Mr. Schwarz has been involved in more than 200 arbitrations as counsel and arbitrator, both ad-hoc and before all major arbitral institutions (including ICC, LCIA, Vienna and Stockholm), at multiple seats and governed by a broad variety of substantive and procedural laws. He has a particular focus on joint venture, M&A, financial services, project finance, as well as commercial and corporate disputes.
Mr. Schwarz regularly counsels clients on conflict of laws issues and international enforcement of arbitration awards and judgments, including against state entities, and frequently advises parties on the protection of foreign investments under bilateral investment treaties and similar instruments.
Mr. Schwarz frequently serves as arbitrator, including as chairman of arbitral tribunals, and is included on the roster of several major arbitral institutions.
Publications and Speaking Engagements
Mr. Schwarz is a regular speaker on international arbitration topics, and teaches international arbitration at the University of Zurich, the Europainstitut in Saarbrücken and the Vienna University School of Economics.
Mr. Schwarz has also published extensively on topical issues of arbitration law. He is the co-author of The Vienna Rules—A Commentary on International Commercial Arbitration in Austria (Kluwer Law International 2009, 2nd edition forthcoming). For a list of representative publications and speaking engagements please see the above tabs.
Mr. Schwarz currently serves on the Executive Board of the Swiss Arbitration Association. He is a member of the IBA Arbitration Sub-Committee on the New York Convention; the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, LCIA, DIS and the Swiss and Austrian Arbitration Associations. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Schwarz served on the Executive Board of the American Arbitration Association's ICDR Young & International Arbitration program, which he co-founded.
Mr. Schwarz led the the Firm’s representation of client Swatch Group in an international arbitration against Tiffany. In December 2013, the tribunal found that Tiffany had breached a long-term cooperation agreement with Swatch Group, that those breaches were material and that Swatch Group was entitled to prematurely terminate the cooperation. The tribunal proceeded to award Swatch Groups lost profits in the amount of USD $480 million, and it dismissed counterclaims by Tiffany for USD $500 million. The decision has attracted global news coverage, from the US to the UK (see e.g. the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Financial Times) to Germany and Switzerland (see e.g. Der Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).
Recently, Mr. Schwarz also secured a significant victory for a major consumer goods company in a dispute involving a failed strategic alliance (under ICC Rules, sited in London, with German law applying); a significant victory for a media company in a joint venture dispute in Germay, under DIS Riles; as well as a favorable outcome for a major airline operator in a joint venture dispute, in an ad hoc arbitration sited in Germany. Mr. Schwarz has also obtained a series of favorable awards in the firm's representation of a leading telecommunications company in a series of joint venture disputes in Eastern Europe, sited in Vienna; and has advised a multinational service company on investment protection claims against a Central European state.
Mr. Schwarz has played a significant role in the firm's successful representation of a leading European telecommunications company in an arbitration involving the break-up of a joint venture—the considerable amounts involved in this dispute made it the largest ICC arbitration in history. He also represented a major telecommunications company in a multi-jurisdictional dispute over a joint venture company in Switzerland and helped to obtain a victory for the client in a highly-expedited procedure in less than three months.
Named a Top Lawyer for International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
Recognized as a Leading Arbitrator and Thought Leader
Who's Who Legal: Arbitration
Selected as an Elite Leading Lawyer for Dispute Resolution
The Legal 500 UK
In January 2014, American Lawyer recognized partner Franz Schwarz as "Litigator of the Week," for his representation in Swatch Group v. Tiffany and “delivering a Christmas gift of [almost] half a billion dollar to Wilmer's client Swatch Group."
Mr. Schwarz has been awarded the inaugural Swiss Arbitration Association's (ASA) Prize for Advocacy in International Arbitration. The award, established in 2008, was given for the first time at ASA's annual conference in Geneva on 29 January 2010. The Prize is being awarded at regular intervals-and for the first time this year-to "recognize counsel who, through their exceptional talents in advocacy, contribute most effectively to the promotion of effective resolution of international commercial disputes through arbitration." In the award speech, Mr. Schwarz was praised as an "exceptional talent" in advocacy and "one of the best lawyers of his generation." For more information, see WilmerHale's press release and www.arbitration-ch.org.
Mr. Schwarz is the recipient of the American Arbitration Association's Distinguished Service Award "for his distinguished service and support of international arbitration and mediation."
Client and Peer Reviews
Mr. Schwarz is widely recognized as a leading practitioner in the field of international dispute resolution. For his work in the field, he has been included in the following client and peer reviews:
- Recommended by Chambers Global (2009-2018) in the fields of international arbitration and dispute resolution, which describes him as being "an extremely effective advocate" and "a real leader in the field." He is also recognized as a Foreign Expert in Austrian dispute resolution.
- Recognized as a leader in the field of international arbitration in the 2011-2018 editions of Chambers Europe, which refers to him as "very talented" with a "great understanding of the relevant common and civil law, as well as the general EU law of the different institutions."
- Also recognized as a leader in the field of international arbitration in the 2008-2018 editions of Chambers UK, which describe him as "very versatile" with a "great understanding of the relevant common and civil law," a "superb advocate" and "impressive and outstanding," an "extremely effective advocate," a "fantastic advocate who masters the facts of a case very well," a "superstar of the future" and also as a "convincing and dynamic individual, with a remarkably sharp mind" who "displays extraordinary strategic sense and masterful judgment."
- Featured in Who's Who Legal: Arbitration (2008-2018) as a leading arbitrator. He was named a "Thought Leader" in the 2018 edition, with sources describing him as “definitely a prominent figure” in the market, “a very bright individual, an impressive lawyer and talented advocate,” and an “outstanding arbitrator.” He was named among the "Most Highly Regarded Individuals" under 45 in the world in the inaugural edition of Who's Who Legal: Arbitration - Future Leaders 2017, where he was described as "highly respected," with one respondent noting that "he gave one of the best cross-examinations I have ever seen."
- Recommended in The Legal 500 UK as a "Leading lawyer" for dispute resolution: international arbitration (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016), which described him as widely respected and "tactically excellent."
- Selected by his peers for inclusion in the sixth and seventh editions of The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom for his work in international arbitration.
- Recognized in Legal Media Group's The Best of the Best in 2009, 2011 and 2013 as among the world's 25 leading lawyers for international commercial arbitration. Also listed in The Best of the Best 2011 as a leading lawyer for litigation.
- Featured in the Arbitration Report 2007 by Legal Business, which described him as "analytically and academically superb."
Insights & News
MCIArb, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2001
LLM, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1999with Merits
Mag iur, University of Vienna School of Law, 1995Top of Class
England and Wales, Registered European Lawyer